Windows Client UPDATE--April 29, 2004

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1. Commentary: Low-Cost Peripheral Sharing for SOHO Users

2. News & Views

- MSN Messenger Update Adds Games, MSN Toolbar

3. Resources

- Tip: Restore Windows XP Style to Display Properties
- Featured Thread: File Menu's Open With Option

4. New and Improved

- ScriptLogic Enhances Desktop Authority and ScriptLogic Enterprise
- Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!

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==== 1. Commentary: Low-Cost Peripheral Sharing for SOHO Users ====

by David Chernicoff, [email protected]

A comment I hear frequently from small office/home office (SOHO) users is that they need inexpensive peripherals. A number of readers have asked me to recommend inexpensive scanners; they're tired of having to give up their computer--which happens to have the only scanner in the office attached to it--to another user who has to scan something. I get similar complaints from home office users who don't want to leave multiple computers on to ensure that their printers are always available, especially when such printers provide various functions (e.g., printer, fax, copier) that other people need to use regularly. I also often hear from readers who simply bought extra printers or scanners on sale at the local office supply superstore and then complain about their lack of desk space. My suggestions to readers about network-attached printers and print servers tend to generate responses about those machines' high costs.

Last week, an inexpensive solution to the peripheral-sharing problem turned up in my mail: Keyspan USB Server. This accessory, which lists for $129.99, lets you attach USB 1.x devices, such as printers and scanners, directly to your network, where Windows 2000 and Windows XP users can then access them.

I tried out USB Server and found that it was easy to use and worked as advertised. I installed the product by plugging an RJ-45 cable into the small USB Server device (approx 4" x 3" x 1") and an available port on my network hub. I then attached to the hub two USB devices--an HP 3500c scanner and an HP 7150 printer.

USB Server includes application software, which I installed on two clients on my network. Be aware that although USB Server lets you share devices, the product doesn't allow concurrent use. You use the USB Server application to connect to an available device and disconnect from the device when you're done using it, freeing the device for the next user who needs it.

USB Server isn't a perfect solution because it doesn't allow any sort of concurrent access (such as spooling for printers) and supports only USB 1.x connections (Keyspan expects to have a USB 2.x version out this year). However, at a low price, USB Server solves the problem of sharing multiple devices that get a moderate amount of use, which in my case are a photo printer and a scanner. I no longer need be concerned that peripheral devices attached to a computer I'm upgrading or patching remain available to the other users in my SOHO environment. I'm looking forward to the USB 2.0 version of USB Server, so I can find out whether I can use it to create a backup solution for a USB-attached 250GB hard disk that keeps the critical files on my family's computers safe and secure. For more information about USB Server, go to


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==== 2. News & Views ====

by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

MSN Messenger Update Adds Games, MSN Toolbar

This week, Microsoft will finally release MSN Messenger 6.2, the company's most recent Instant Messaging (IM) client, which adds online gaming interoperability and an optional installation of the MSN Toolbar for Internet Explorer. MSN Messenger currently has more than 120 million users, according to Microsoft.

Despite its minor version-number change (the earlier version was 6.1), MSN Messenger 6.2 contains two major updates. First, the product now integrates with Microsoft's online games through the new MSN Instant Games Clubhouse, which features access to familiar head-to-head game titles such as Wheel of Fortune, MSN Instant Games Chess, and Bankshot Billiards, and a game called Upwords. "The popularity of online gaming is booming, with nearly 50 million people already jumping on the Internet instead of pulling a boxed game from their closets when they want to play games," said Blake Irving, corporate vice president of MSN Communication Services and Member Platform Group. "Gaming with MSN Instant Games combines the best of both worlds, bringing some of the most popular boxed games to life online while enabling people to connect with their friends--or rivals--in game play wherever they might be." MSN Instant Games Clubhouse is available only in the United States and isn't free: Subscribers must pay $4 to $5 a month for each new head-to-head game, Microsoft says, although the company also offers seven free games.

MSN Messenger 6.2 also includes an optional installation of the MSN Toolbar for Internet Explorer, which Microsoft says users have downloaded 1.2 million times since its release in January. The toolbar provides pop-up ad blocking and Web-search functionality, as well as quick access to various MSN online services.

Small changes in MSN Messenger 6.2 include emoticon autocorrect functionality, a connection troubleshooter, and contact-list improvements related to mobile-device users. Microsoft routinely makes changes of this kind with minor MSN Messenger upgrades.

Microsoft originally released MSN Messenger 6.2 on April 22 but pulled it because of unnamed technical problems. The company will release the product again this week. "The 6.2 client is currently on hold," a Microsoft spokesperson told me.

Microsoft isn't the first company to integrate online games into its IM client. Last week, AOL's ICQ subsidiary released ICQ 4.0, which includes new games and other features. And Yahoo! is set to release a major IM version today called The All New Yahoo! Messenger, which will let users more easily tie into the company's online games service. The new Yahoo! client will also feature a completely reworked UI and integration with Yahoo! services such as photo sharing, Address Book, and LAUNCHcast Radio.

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==== 3. Resources ====

Tip: Restore Windows XP Style to Display Properties

(contributed by David Chernicoff, [email protected])

Recently I lent a friend a hand in configuring Windows XP computers for a classroom project. To make sure that all the computers had the same appearance, we selected Windows XP style on the Display Properties dialog box's Appearance tab as our default display appearance. For some unknown reason, 2 of the 18 computers we were configuring didn't offer the Windows XP style choice and offered only Windows Classic style. Apparently, this problem is a known bug in XP. I found the following workaround that restores the Windows XP style entry to the Appearance selections, so I could configure all the computers with the Windows XP style appearance.
  1. Click Start, Run.
  2. Type services.msc and press Enter to launch the Services console.
  3. Scroll to the Themes service and select it.
  4. Stop the service if it's running (click Stop).
  5. Set the startup type to Automatic, if it isn't already set this way. To do this, right-click Themes, click Properties, and in the "Startup type" list box, select Automatic. Click OK.
  6. Click Start (or Restart) to restart the service.

Featured Thread: File Menu's Open With Option

Forum participant "nirvana" wants to know how to change the Windows 2000 File menu's Open With option to specify a program other than Notepad. If you can help, join the discussion at the following URL:

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